Where I live, sidewalks are pedestrian only by law. I don't know why anyone would want to ride on a sidewalk, there's no space, there can be gaps on the sides, and generally tend to be an obstacle course.
A million and a half views for this tread. Sidewalks? Really? That many people care?
I guess many folks think of some bicycle messenger or sushi delivery guy in SOHO terrorizing the sidewalk citizenry in a town where people actually walk on the sidewalks. What I picture in my mind are thousands of miles of smooth concrete through suburbia keeping me off of the 8-lane highway for a few blocks on my way to Office Depot, or the sidewalk in front of my home that I jump on for the length of two houses to get to my corner. Sidewalks that go almost totally unused by anyone else other than some immigrant workers on Wall-mart fully sprung mountain bikes and the occasional housekeeper making her way from the bus stop to some McMansion up the side street. With a little courtesy it is a snap to safely avoid such persons when encountered.
I see some sidewalks as an untapped cycling resource. Other sidewalks would be hateful cycling suicide almost instantly. Those hateful ones I avoid. The "good" ones that serve as unplanned bike paths for five or six cyclists each day and three or four walkers are regular planned additions to my bike routes often saving me from going around the block needlessly or giving a couple of hundred Suburbans a free shot at me curbside when there is a perfectly usable piece of pavement just five feet away and going in the same direction.
Now I am not saying that sidewalk riding does not take some extra thought. Actually, there is an art to it. You gotta realize when you take to the sidewalk almost anywhere you are giving up your "right of way" to all vehicles at cross streets and driveways. Yes, when you get to that McDonald's drive through entrance or exit you might want to plan on yielding to a few cars turning in or out. But for any cyclist with a brain and a capacity for cognitive thought, that is not a huge stretch, nor a deal breaker.
So cycling on the sidewalk may be illegal in some places, but we are certainly NOT going to Hell for doing it properly.
In Estonia I've never seen anyone, even the police, have any problems with Bicyclers riding on sidewalks.
The car not stopping is probably one reason we have the laws here.
I wonder if there have been any lawsuits involving this. Here kids can ride on sidewalk & cars have to yield at crosswalks.
I like your quote. I've observed it to be true, especially insofar as topic at hand..
Dont ride on the side walk here, my wife will run you down in her car, she hates bicycles
Used to be staunchly anti-sidewalk for bicyclists until I got my bike. The path home for me (the one with the most bike lanes) is a little iffy for approximately the last 3-4 blocks. My street is striped for sharrows, but the bike lanes are about 3-4 blocks away. Block #1 is a low traffic street most hours of the day (it is busy during the AM commute with people heading to the freeway, but empty for most of the day otherwise. This block isn't a big deal. The next block is where it gets tricky. Leading up to that street is a very weird 5-way intersection on a major thoroughfare (6 lanes, with cars frequently going 40+). Right after I got my bike, I attempted to bike the one block to the bike lane, which requires a right turn. The intersection is also a bus stop. Well it was really scary, and I made a pact not to do that again (unless it is a quiet Sunday). When I am headed home, the other side of the street is worst, on the up note there is a left turn arrow (which hypothetically I wold use). The problem is the turn arrow is pretty short, only allowing 3-4 cars and the light cycle is really long. So the cars are not going to be patient enough to wait for people on bikes.
When "leaving home" I take the parallel street for a block, and that leaves me with 100-200 feet of sidewalk until the bus stop. When "returning home" I don't always have the energy to use the same route (it is a steep hill in the other direction, it is more like a dip, and when you finish the street you have a semi-blind corner. Cars are infrequent, but they tend to speed to catch the light.). So I decided to take the sidewalk for that block. The corner with the bus stop can be a little busy, there is a bar on the corner with lots of loitering from 5pm on. But otherwise the sidewalk isn't heavily used at all, particularly at night when I tend to go home. I compromise by pedaling pretty slowly, just a bit faster than walking pace, so I don't blow by any pedestrians and catch them off guard. This feels a lot safer than navigating the busy bike-lane free street.
I actually sidewalk bicycle SOMETIMES. I would be a liar if I said some roads still give me gears. I haven't mastered riding next to a car thats about a foot away yet.
You can claim riding on the road is safer UNTIL you are almost hit a by a car.
I ride on the sidewalk when there's a ton of cars on the road. Seriously, where I live, go out on the road on a bike during rush hour and you're suicidal. Semi trucks and cars fly by. I've tried it once. Won't do it again. Cars will honk their horns at you, and sometimes yell at you. A semi passed me once with about a foot or less room. I was like oh crap this is a bad idea and got right back on the sidewalk.
Usually there aren't too many people walking on the sidewalk so you don't have to worry about that where i live.
Now when traffic is less "why I ride at night most of the time" I use the main road simply because it's smoother, and cars can actually move over when they see you.
I cycle about 2,000 miles a year on the streets. The only collision I've ever had was when I was hit by a car while riding on the sidewalk. Old lady in a sports car not paying attention. There's just too many people pulling out of parking lots that become a hazard. Too many blind spots for those drivers. Too many obstacles like crowded bus stops, electrical boxes, poles, abandoned shopping carts, etc. In the scenario where I got hit in the sidewalk, there was a bike lane I should have used instead.
There are a couple scenario's where i'll go on the sidewalk:
1) It's late at night, and the sidewalk has very few pedestrians, and cars passing through it. Late at night, there's more chance of DUI drivers, or cars full of teenagers that like to mess with cyclists. I've been hit with eggs, bottles of beer, and have been threatened, just while minding my own business, all these incidents happened at night. After dark I like to distance myself from cars as much as possible. 4 cyclists have been killed in my city this year, two days ago it was a DUI driver on the same block I ride in.
2) If I'm on a street that has very heavy traffic, and the street has no bike lane, no shoulder, and the car lane is less than 8' wide. I would rather go on the sidewalk than overtake a lane. In the area where I live, drivers almost never see cyclists take lanes, and the few times I have done that, they became confused and enraged and blared their horn at me even though they had another open lane to use. They simply don't understand the concept of taking a lane, or the reason why it's done. It's not worth it if there's a sidewalk I can use.
I don't agree than using a sidewalk is always the less safe option 100% of the time. I think you have to judge the situation for yourself after considering the factors.
Things like how wide the sidewalk is, and how much car and foot traffic are along those sidewalks are things that need to be taken into consideration.